Sexism ruins online gaming for women

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Your average gaming lobby

Surveys and statistics will have you believe that there’s a night 50/50 split down the middle when it comes to gender in gaming. Anybody who actually plays games will tell you that it’s just not true – and that gaming, especially online, is the unchallenged domain of the male gamer. A new survey on sexism within gaming may tell you why.

An admittedly small survey – just 874 respondents –  conducted by Emily Matthew on the Pricecharting blog found that a 63% of female gamers have been the objects of abuse by foul-mouthed, probably pre-pubescent boys (or fully grown manchildren) – being called nasty things like “Cunt,” “bitch,” “slut,” and “whore” and other common misogynist epithets. Additionally, said women were asked for sexual favours, threatened with sexual assault, and more than likely,  asked to go back to the kitchen to fix up sandwiches. Troglodytes.

That sort of verbal abuse, as you’d expect, tends to make women quit the games they were playing, leaving games boys-only sausage fests.

“Women were also much more likely to quit playing a game because of sex-based harassment than were men,” says the report. “35.8% of women reported having quit playing temporarily because of sexism, and 9.6% reported that they quit playing a certain game permanently because of harassment.”

Funnily enough, it’s not just women who’re on the receiving end of verbal abuse in games – proving that many online players aren’t just dicks to women, they’re just dicks. And while some gamers might say that everybody gets abused online and that women should just “man up,” nobody likes being treated as a second-class citizen.

“15.7% of men also reported that they had experienced sex-based taunting, harassment, or threats while playing video games. The numbers for men in the same areas were 11.7% and 2.6% respectively – about a third of the percentage for women in each case.”

For those folk who don’t identify with traditional roles, the situation can be even worse.

“For those who identified as intersexed, identified with a sex that was not listed, or did not identify with any sex, the sexual harassment that was experienced largely related to not fitting into any norm. Those participants in these demographics had almost all experienced intentional misgendering from other players.”

It’s easy to see why many women shy away from online games (or the internet as a whole) – or when they don’t, obfuscate their gender. Sexism, like racism, YOLO and Justin Bieber needs to go away.

Last Updated: September 10, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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